Volume 22, Issue 9 / September 2018

Forbidden Love, Cinematic Desires

This month Offscreen focuses, for the first time, on the broad theme of homosexuality and queerness in cinema. Across the first three essays love exists as an unspoken and forbidden desire, but at times also as a reflection of the pure sensuality of cinema. The common film in these three essays, Call Me By Your Name, sets the budding romance between two young men against an idyllic Tuscan setting which colors both the viewer’s understanding of the romance and the memory of it as lived by the protagonists. In Miles Rufelds essay on Call Me By Your Name he examines the film’s sensuality and appeal to surface beauty as a manifestation of Elio’s sexual desire for Oliver (adapting Patricia MacCormack’s term ‘cinesexuality’). Rufelds also acknowledges his own critical tug between reading the film’s slavish glorification of wealth, luxury and material beauty as either Elio’s projected (in a sense) cinesexuality, or from a Marxist, critical-theoretical position, seeing this as a tacit endorsement of a sort of bourgeoise fantasy idealization. Plus other readings within these poles. Daniel Garrett also studies Call Me By Your Name but as part of a larger triptych of reviews of films each based on an existing novel, Call Me By Your Name (novel by AndrĂ© Aciman), Maurice (novel by E.M. Forster), and The City of Your Final Destination (novel by Peter Cameron). Although homosexuality as both an idealized and forbidden (by society, fear, insecurity) love is one of the many themes in two of the films (and homosexuality through characters appear in all three), the real connection between the three films, informing their sensibility and sensitivity to human emotion, is the writer-director James Ivory, who directed two and wrote/co-wrote two. In my own piece, Call Me By Your Name is discussed within the context of several other films which have the common theme of how societal constraints can suppress same sex love. In the fourth article, Philippe Bouchard-Cholette interviews Bradford Nordeen, founder and creative director of Dirty Looks, a Los Angeles-based collective dedicated to the showcasing of queer-made moving images. And in the final article, Guan-Soon Khoo interviews Malayasian-born filmmaker/artist Yen Tan about his award winning gay themed short and feature films. (Donato Totaro, ed.)

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